REVIEW: MAGIC – THE GATHERING VOLUME 4 – THEROS / AUTHOR: JASON CIARAMELLA / ARTIST: MARTIN COCCOLO, ERIC DESCHAMPS / PUBLISHER: IDW / RELEASE DATE: MAY 6TH
Magic: The Gathering is an internationally renowned collectable card game that has been around for over twenty years. In that time it has turned from a geeky little bit of fun into a pretty significant deal; it has its own World Cup and high level tournaments involve serious money. The theme of the game is dueling wizards and the cards used in the game tend to contain both flavour text and detailed illustrations. Over the years these little snippets of world-building have grown to form a complex story and setting which is impenetrable to most outsiders.
Luckily, various novels and comic books have been able to chip away at this vast and detailed setting, letting those who don’t know how to “tap” a card enjoy this world. Magic: The Gathering Volume 4: Theros continues to detail the adventures of one Dack Fayden who is not only a dimension-hopping wizard, he’s also the greatest thief in the Multiverse. One of the charms of the setting is that the key characters (called Planeswalkers) can travel from world to world, and this allows different characters from different sorts of fantasy settings to meet and beat each other up.
Theros is an exaggerated version of Hellenic Greece, filled with sea monsters and vain gods. Dack makes his way to the world partially at the urging of one of his recently acquired (and obviously cursed) artefacts and proceeds to stumble onto a rather sinister secret. Dack is a likeable character in a rather clichéd “loveable rogue” sort of way and the entire tale is quite charming. Those not familiar with the setting may be a little surprised at some points, but nothing that should detract the reader from what is essentially a straightforward adventure fantasy.
One of the key features of the game is that each card features a nice bit of artwork, so as you’d expect, the comic book is very pretty indeed. The panel work is a little samey in places and this does mean that some of the more detailed pages lack the sort of impact they deserve, but overall Magic: The Gathering Volume 4: Theros is a strong reflection of this popular pastime.